The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is just 21 days away and the Arizona Coyotes have quite a few pieces they could look to move ahead of it. The biggest names surrounding the Coyotes are Jakob Chychrun and Shayne Gostisbehere. With both expected to garner big returns, general manager Bill Armstrong has other pieces he’s reportedly open to moving for the right price in guys like Nick Ritchie, Nick Bjugstad, and perhaps even Karel Vejmelka.
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With the possibility of taking a year off the team’s current rebuild, expect everyone except a small handful of players to be available for the right price. Today we take a look at the three most likely Coyotes to be moved ahead of the deadline, and the possible returns the team could expect to get.
The highest anticipated trade target that’s been garnering attention around the league for the past two seasons since issuing his trade request is defenseman Chychrun. After a poor, injury-riddled season last season, the Coyotes defenseman has bounced back quite nicely this season, registering 27 points in 35 games on seven goals and 20 assists.
The list of teams interested in Chychrun’s services seems to grow by the day. At just 24 years of age, he’s a solid top-four defenseman who currently averages 23:04 time on ice. His two-way play style and sharp hockey IQ make him an intriguing piece for a team looking to make a deep playoff run. With his desire to compete for a contender, expect teams such as the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, or Los Angeles Kings to make a deal with Armstrong.
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The biggest obstacle that’s been standing in the team’s way in terms of moving him has been the asking price, which is reportedly very steep. The Coyotes are looking for two first-round draft picks, including one in this year’s draft, as well as a prospect. While certainly steep, there will be a team that will ultimately pay the price. With a team-friendly cap hit of only $4.6 million which runs through the 2024-25 season, the days of seeing Chychrun in a Kachina sweater are numbered.
Just two years ago the Coyotes acquired Gostisbehere from the Philadelphia Flyers for practically nothing. After back-to-back down seasons with the Flyers, the writing seemed to be on the wall for the almost 30-year-old. Instead of moping about a trade to a rebuilding Coyotes team, he used the new opportunity and change of scenery as a chance to turn his career around.
A stellar 2021-22 season saw him register 51 points in 82 games on 14 goals and 37 assists while averaging 22:11 of ice time serving as the team’s top defenseman with Chychrun missing a bulk of last season due to injury. This caught the attention of teams heading into 2022-23 and he backed it up, starting off the season as hot as he did the year before. An unfortunate injury two weeks ago against the Anaheim Ducks has since sidelined the defenseman and will see him miss the next four to six weeks, leaving him with 29 points in 48 games.
Despite being unable to return until after the March 3 deadline, teams will be calling for Gostisbehere’s services. As a pending unrestricted free agent, the almost 30-year-old is longing for a shot to play in the playoffs and chase a Stanley Cup. He has shown signs he can still produce in a top-four role and despite the current injury, the Coyotes don’t seem like a likely candidate for him to re-sign with if he is not moved at the deadline. Teams such as the Detroit Red Wings, Calgary Flames, and New York Islanders seem to be the most likely landing spots in return for a second-round pick.
The final and perhaps most interesting name to keep tabs on ahead of the deadline is Bjugstad who signed a one-year deal with the Coyotes during the offseason looking to re-spark his game, while providing a veteran presence to a young, rebuilding team. He’s currently on pace for his highest career point season since his years with the Florida Panthers, while building some trade value ahead of the deadline.
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After a career-high 49 points in 2017-18 with the Panthers, the Coyotes forward spent the next five seasons in a limited role on the third and fourth line, resulting in a major drop in production, recording a high of only 17 points during that span. Upon his arrival in Arizona, a fire was lit underneath him and glimpses of his former self seemed to come out. He’s recorded 21 points in 51 games currently, with 11 goals, his highest since 2017-18, and 10 assists.
The Coyotes would be wise to move him while he’s hot for a potential third-round pick. Teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, and Toronto Maple Leafs could look to acquire his services in the hopes of solidifying their third line ahead of a potentially deep playoff run. He’s been a really good defensive center, a match-up center, and he’s provided some offense that will certainly have teams calling.
At The End Of The Day
At the end of the day, the Coyotes are in an interesting predicament. While they’re not expected to go full fire sale mode at the deadline, general manager Armstrong has made it known that every player on the roster besides a couple are fair game to be moved for the right price.
The Coyotes hold the cards on their future and depending on the outcome at the end of the day on March 3, expect the team to take a year off their rebuild as they inch closer and closer to competing in the Central Division.